Dozens of name badges

In the nearly 12 years I have been at my current job, I’ve hardly thrown out a name badge from various meetings, conventions and functions I have attended representing my place of employment. Partly because they have my name on them, but mostly because they show where I’ve been.

On nearly every one of those badges is a ribbon with MEDIA on it. I take pride in my job, but at times it can get pretty repetitive telling someone what I do and who I work for if they are outside the agriculture industry. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s wonderful we have all the news and information we cram in each issue for our readers; and that I can travel then consequently write about all I learned. What I get tired of is the misconception of what media in agriculture means.

I have a bachelors degree in agricultural communications from Oklahoma State. What does that mean? Well, I took journalism classes to teach me how to interview, write and take photographs. I also took classes ranging from agronomy to animal science. I even took an agricultural law class. The aim was to have knowledge of both sides – journalism and agriculture. When I graduated and left college, I felt as though I had a great mix of both subjects and in my first job as a general assignment reporter at a daily newspaper I was equally prepared enough to write about the school board as I was an agricultural meeting I was sent to cover.

In the last month I have questioned my chosen career path because of frustrations stemming from the most basic part of my job. Calling a farmer or rancher. I fear my luck has run out because of a couple of guys who just won’t call me back. It’s hard to say if they don’t like the subject, my publication or even what I’m writing about.

There’s a saying, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” Well, I’m not a teacher or downgrading the importance of what teachers do. But I often feel as though it would be nice to be working on the farm or ranch every day, but I don’t think I have the skills and my husband doesn’t have the time or patience to teach me (he might though), so I write about it and photograph the beautiful things all around me.

I don’t expect everyone to understand the media, or what agricultural journalism is all about. What I do expect is for someone to take me at face value. Let my actions and not assumptions define who I am as a writer.

phonto

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Good with the bad

On Sunday we only had a 30 percent chance of rain. In our part of Kansas, that normally means 70 percent chance we won’t see a drop. The day before I had joked with my dad after he had mowed our yard for us, that it looked so nice that we just needed a nice rain to make it look even better! And I do believe I got what I’d wished for.

When the first storm came through it was looking like it was going to be another disappointment because as quick as the storm built up and moved on, we only got enough to get everything wet with big fat raindrops. About an hour later as we were trying to leave to go feed cows, another storm came. This one brought some heavy rain and a few hailstones. Once it had passed we loaded in the pickup and tried to head south. We only made it down the road a couple of miles before we had to stop and wait it out. I cringed hearing the hailstones hit the outside of my pickup. Finally it let up enough to safely drive. The farther south we got, the less rain there was. At one point, we could see the next storm rolling in, and even witnessed a few rope tornadoes forming and quickly spinning out. By the time we got to Clark County the road was dry and it hadn’t rained a drop at the farm. By the time we’d finished chores there it was starting to sprinkle. So we had hope for rain there.

Since it was Mother’s Day we decided on our way back home that we’d stop for supper in town. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, it started raining. It rained some more, hailed a little and blew like crazy. Not thinking much of it, we headed home and when we headed north we were astonished by how much rain had collected in the ditches and was running off fields. At the house we found some hail damage on the house, and a lot of water, but everything was still safe.

I went out to check the horses and they all looked no worse for the wear. As I was shutting the gate to their pen I looked at the ground. I found a pretty good-sized hailstone stuck in the mud, and a few more as I walked to the house. They were pretty decent sized for being out there for a while after the last storm. Shaun was intrigued by the hailstones and wanted to eat them.. I had to explain to him what they were and that they really shouldn’t be eaten!

Collection of hailstones from May 11, 2014.

Collection of hailstones from May 11, 2014.

Happy anniversary to my blog!

Apparently today is the second anniversary for my blog. I have been feeling bad for not being a very good blogger. My last post was in November 2013, and when I went today to make a short post and found a neat little reminder that it’s my anniversary with the blog. How coincidental!

I started this blog when I was still working from home and needed an outlet while staying home two days a week with my then 8-month-old son. I blogged quite often, and got a lot of feedback. Seems as though the days are busier now, and may get even busier with the arrival of our second son in early February. I’m hoping with one in daycare and the second one at home with me for 6 to 8 weeks, I can get back to blogging more, but don’t count on it. I’m positive I will need a creative outlet while at home.

I’ve come to dread January, mainly because of the weather and cold, but also because of a certain date. Jan. 21. It’s been two years since my father-in-law died on that day. On Jan. 14, 2012 we spent most of the day with my FIL and his mom at a family function and then they came and spent some time at our house with us. On this Jan. 14, I was at work and happened to glance back at some photos of my son and noticed the date. They were taken the day Steve died, but in the morning. If we had only known how our lives would change so much that Saturday, I would have done a lot of things differently. Not much we can change now, but it’s a thought I have often. I sure miss the guy.

I do think Steve would be proud of all the work Spence has put in at the farm. He’s made a lot of improvements to the facilities, particularly the pens and working chutes. He’s built the cowherd up and has continued to keep all the leases on the crop land his dad once had. I’m pretty proud of him for doing what he has with what little he has had to work with and doing most of it himself. I’m sure he’d have all the help he could ask for if he’d just ask, but that’s just not him. He puts his head down and gets the job done, no matter how long it takes. There are some nights where he doesn’t make it home until well past dark, but (even though it doesn’t seem like it now) it’s worth it. It’s worth it to keep the farm in the family.

I also think Steve would get a kick out of his grandson. For being only two and a half, the little stinker surprises me every day. Whether it’s something he has said or asks about, I’m continually amazed. I think he’s gained his grandpa’s love for that farm, and I hope it continues to be a place where he can have fun and grow up.

Shaun's favorite place in the whole world - the Scott family farm on the tractor.

Shaun’s favorite place in the whole world – the Scott family farm on the tractor.

Remembering

Sometimes there are people in your life that you expect to always be there. You never expect something to happen to them and for them to not be there. Especially if that someone is somebody you don’t see everyday.

When my father-in-law died last year, the thought, “never in a million years did I expect him to die,” kept running through my brain. I know I said it more than once at the time. In all honesty I never expected Steve to be gone before my own dad simply because my dad is diabetic and has had heart surgery in the past. Steve was relatively healthy to me.

Last week, my sister texted me and asked if I had heard anything about Bertis. “Nope, why?” was my reply. Bertis was Steve’s best friend and for many years a great family friend. Bertis helped look for Steve when my mother-in-law couldn’t get a hold of him. He and Fletch were the ones who found Steve. Never in a million years did I expect Bertis to die. But he did.

So many emotions came back to me because it’s only been a year and a few months since Steve died. It was just all too familiar. My first thought was of Bertis and Steve meeting in heaven. I thought, I sure hope they are having a cold beer and catching up.

Then I thought back to my wedding day when he handed me a $100 bill and made some joke. Wish I could remember what it was. Then I thought of his own daughter who is getting married this Saturday and how she won’t have her dad to walk her down the aisle and that he will never meet his future grand kids. I remember Bertis giving me my first beer after I had Shaun and shooting the breeze in his farm shop.

For the life of me I can’t remember when the last time I saw him was. It’s not really that important in the grand scheme of things, but my mind wants to focus on it. I thought I had a photo of him, but the only one I can find is from my wedding of him carrying ice. But it’s how I most remember Bertis – at the farm with a short-sleeved shirt, an East Kansas Chemical hat and his Wranglers. Only thing missing was the cold beverage in his hand.

Lois and Bertis at our wedding reception in 2009.

Lois and Bertis at our wedding reception in 2009.

Farm auctions

I love me some Friday night junk auctions and traipsing around the flea market on a Saturday morning. I get a kick out of finding something old to become new-to-me. However, farm auctions don’t give me the same feeling of satisfaction. Sure, they are auctions, and the highest bidder wins, but that’s the only person who wins (in my mind).

A few years ago my dad quit farming and sold out. That cold January day was one of the hardest in my short time on Earth. I took the day off work to stand out in the cold and support my family, only to watch the stuff he had worked so hard for be sold for dirt cheap. I haven’t been to another farm auction since.

This Saturday my Godparents are having a farm auction of their own. They’ve retired and built a new house in Manhattan to be near their children and grandchildren. I’m not sure if I want to go, but Mom suggested I go with her. I have always seen the auctions as a bad thing. They signal the end of an era, the end of a farm, the end of a way of life.

Maybe that’s not the right way to feel about them. They could very well be a place for a young farmer to get his feet wet in the agriculture business. They could let someone get a piece of equipment for a decent price and not suffer the mark-up a dealer would stick to them. They are a part of life.

Sunset after a rain at the ranch in 2006.